Parking troubles in Newcastle CBD

Whoopsie: This vehicle was parked a tad crooked in Newcastle CBD.
Whoopsie: This vehicle was parked a tad crooked in Newcastle CBD.

Richard Sonnichsen was leaving a dental appointment in Newcastle CBD, when he received a bit of a shock.

It wasn’t so much the dentist’s bill, but a car parked “partly on the footpath in front of my car”.

“The lady driver was clearly in a hurry, as she sprinted off down Hunter Street towards Blue Door Cafe,” Richard said.

He hoped her meal was OK and that her coffee wasn’t too cold.

“Jokes aside though, parking pressures will only become more intense and difficult for everyone, as the serious light rail work kicks in,” Richard said.

“But we should not make it any harder than it needs to be. I'm sure this poorly executed attempt to put a medium-sized SUV into a more than ample parking space would have attracted a fine.

“As should the lack of any attempt to pay for a ticket!”

Richard admitted that he too dislikes paying for parking, let alone fines.

Then he surprised us a bit. He went into bat for the brown bombers.

“Clearly if we didn't have those revenue-raising officers, the parking chaos would be bordering on anarchy and every business and individual would suffer.

“Imagine the whinging and whining then.”

OK Richard, fair point. But Topics wonders why parking has to be so expensive. Charging $4 an hour is a rort. Who sets that price anyway? The parking mafia? Why can’t parking cost only $1 or $1.50 an hour?

Every time we park in Newcastle, we feel like we’re being robbed blind. Guess that $4 charge is all about encouraging the punters to use public transport. 

We can’t help but wonder if Newcastle has got it all wrong. The Entrance on the Central Coast has free parking, including a multi-level parking station, and it's booming. 

Richard continued: “For anyone in the CBD, particularly around the NewSpace [university] area, you might notice many more P-plated cars cruising around trying to find parks. Good luck students!”

He urged students to take the bus, adding “they will now be running on King Street”.

He also called for calm.

“Please everyone just be a little bit more patient,” he said.

“The contractors have a job to do and the quicker they get it finished, the happier we will all be.

“Short term pain, long term gain.”

Hmmm that’s a good point, Richard. Topics wonders whether the light rail construction will lead to more cases of road rage in town. We’ll have to keep an eye on that.

Motorists in the CBD need a bit of that mindfulness stuff. Focus on the breath, focus on the breath. Oh, also focus on the road. And for god’s sake, keep your phone away from arm’s reach.

War Memories

A scene from a mini-series about the Cowra breakout in August 1944.

A scene from a mini-series about the Cowra breakout in August 1944.

All the talk about brinkmanship between the US and North Korea sparked memories of World War II for Swansea’s Gwen James.

Gwen, now 92, worked at Concord Hospital during the war.

She recalled wounded Japanese prisoners of war being brought to the hospital, after they escaped from a detention centre near Cowra.

“They brought some injured Japanese up to Concord because we had a secure ward,” Gwen said.

The infamous Cowra breakout led to the death of 231 Japanese prisoners, with a further 108 wounded.

All survivors were recaptured in the surrounding area soon after.

Many had committed or attempted suicide. Life in the camp had been relaxed before the breakout, but the suicidal charge by Japanese POWs related to an Imperial military regulation requiring them to die rather than be captured.

The escapees also vowed not to harm Australian civilians.

Gwen worked as a clerk in the admissions section of the hospital. 

“I was on duty when they came in. They weren’t badly wounded,” she said.

Round-the-clock coverage of US president Donald Trump’s position on North Korea was a world away from the media available during World War II.

“We were very isolated during the war. You didn’t get TV and all the rest like you do now,” Gwen said.

* Share your tales of WWII at topics@theherald.com.au